A Teacher’s View: The Beauty of Autism
In my experience, people with autism always have things that are priorities to them. Priorities can mean many different things. It could be a highly specific topic of conversation they wish to discuss, a tangible item that is particularly important to them, or maybe it’s an activity they wish to engage in without interruption. People who do not have autism that attempt to erase these priorities will not be able to truly reach that individual. It’s the special people who use that individual’s “priorities” to engage with them who receive positive and meaningful interactions.
People with autism are exceptional in that they are fearlessly and authentically themselves. Our societal norms do not affect the individual’s agenda to be fully himself or herself. This can be off-putting for those who do not understand or appreciate this. However, with awareness, one can truly see the beauty of an autistic mind. The uninformed believe these individuals need to bend, adapt, and conform to fit into their society. I have met enough individuals to know that it is not them who needs to bend. I will not deny there is much to be learned from a very young age in social and communication skills in order to function in today’s world and be in a relationship with others. But the truth is that there is so much more to be learned from the rest of the world.
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Their meltdowns can be intense and highly revealing. It can be uncomfortable and painful to watch unfold. They learn to play the defense from day one to stay true to themselves and what they want. They learn to fight for these rights because words often fail them. This should not deter us from reaching out, if anything, it should highlight the importance that we continue to reach out.
I hope everyone is lucky enough one day to meet an individual with autism and spend more than five minutes with them. I hope they can observe the desire for human connection is within everyone. For those who do not know much about autism, this isn’t a population of loners who don’t like being touched and ignore others. In fact, that couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s a population comprised of individuals desperately seeking a common ground they are familiar with that they may use to interact with others.
Emily Scheinert lives and works in Charleston, South Carolina as a primary autism teacher. From an early age, she has had a heart for people with special needs and more specifically autism. Her classroom is a self-contained environment that houses children with severe communication, behavioral, and academic needs.
This article was featured in Issue 76 – Raising A Child with Autism